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The Prove It Again Bias

These confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson are painfully familiar to the type of workplace bias Black women and other women of color routinely inhale in the form of repeated bias and racism on their jobs.

Fifty percent of women of color surveyed by Working Mother Media in 2020 in the United States were considering leaving their corporate careers within the next two years. This same type of prove yourself again, and again, and again bias is driving talented women who aspire to achieve top positions in the workplace, out of the workplace. Prove yourself again is soul crushing air to repeatedly inhale.

In the book, Inclusion on Purpose - by Ruchika Tulshyan, she cites research that shows all women, especially women of color, are expected to constantly reestablish their presence and authority at work. This is known as prove-it-again. One study by the Society of Women Engineers found “that 61 percent of women reported having to prove themselves repeatedly to get the same levels of respect and recognition as their colleagues” compared to 35 percent of white men

If you are reading this and thinking, well this is just the process to become a Supreme Court Justice, I urge you to consider systems of oppression and the collective impact. Especially, at the intersection of race & gender. This hearing is just a public display of the acts of exclusion aka micro-aggressions (a word I disagree with, because there is nothing micro about the compounded effect) women of color routinely face in the workplace.

Consider, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley's opening remark, to his line of questioning "The first thing I heard when I got home last night was my wife telling me you did very well with your opening statement,” he said with a deep chuckle."

So, did you, Senator Grassley, or your wife think this Federal Judge, Lawyer, Former Assistant Federal Public Defender, Vice-Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission, Editor of the Harvard Law Review, would have a weak opening statement?

I don't want to think the Grassley's intentionally perpetrated this act of "othering" aka micro-aggression. Many of us fall short & act upon stereotypes & prejudices that we have as a result of social conditioning, media narratives, and the biases held by those who raised or helped shape us. Author Ruchika Tulshyan writes, We all carry biases that are seeded, shaped, and strengthened by the society that we live in. Chief among them is racism. Until we fully understand and accept our complicity in upholding racist systems, we will never be able to build a fully inclusive workplace.

The key is courage. Acknowledge your bias. Be willing to examine your privilege. Open yourself up to listening, non-defensively, with empathy & compassion. Commit to the learning process. Try. Fail. Try again. Learn. Be patient but persistent. Building inclusive workplaces is a process. #inclusiveculture#womenofcolor#breakingthebias#inclusiveleadership

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